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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.

The Movie Star (David Gulpilil), 1985

Tracey Moffatt

type C photograph on paper (frame: 74.5 cm x 99.0 cm, image: 50.7 cm x 77.3 cm)

David Gulpilil AM (b. 1953), actor and dancer, is a Yolngu man of the Mandalbingu language group, born near Maningrida in Arnhem Land. Raised on Country, Gulpilil was sixteen when British film director, Nicholas Roeg, saw him performing a traditional dance and cast him in the film Walkabout, released in 1971. Subsequently, he appeared in Storm Boy (1976), Mad Dog Morgan (1976), The Last Wave (1977) and Crocodile Dundee (1986); played Bennelong in the television series The Timeless Land (1980); and featured in many other Australian television productions. His performance in The Tracker (2002) saw him named Best Actor at the Australian Film Institute Awards, the Inside Film Awards and the Film Critics’ Circle Awards. Gulpilil’s further film credits include Rabbit Proof Fence (2002), The Proposition (2005) and the Yolngu-language Ten Canoes (2006), the idea for which Gulpilil developed with director Rolf de Heer. Some years ago, Gulpilil returned to his ancestral lands to subsist through crocodile hunting and fishing. His existence between Yolngu and balanda (European) cultures was the theme of his one-man stage show, Gulpilil, conceived by Neil Armfield and Stephen Page, which premiered in 2004. In 2013 Gulpilil was awarded the Red Ochre Prize, Australia’s highest peer-assessed honour for Indigenous artists. Amongst his recent films are Charlie’s Country (2013) and the forthcoming Storm Boy, in which he plays the father of the character he played in the original film.

Tracey Moffat’s playful photograph of Gulpilil was amongst the first ten acquisitions of the National Portrait Gallery.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Gift of the artist 1998
Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program
© Tracey Moffatt
Courtesy of the artist and Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney.

Accession number: 1998.10

Currently not on display

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Artist and subject

Tracey Moffatt (age 25 in 1985)

David Gulpilil (age 32 in 1985)

Subject professions

Performing arts

Donated by

Tracey Moffatt (2 portraits)

Related information

The Companion

Permanent collection catalogue

Café and shop

On one level The Companion talks about the most famous and frontline Australians, but on another it tells us about ourselves: who we read, who we watch, who we listen to, who we cheer for, who we aspire to be, and who we'll never forget. The Companion is available to buy online and in the Portrait Gallery Store.

Self portrait, 1999/2005 Tracey Moffatt
Self portrait, 1999/2005 Tracey Moffatt
Self portrait, 1999/2005 Tracey Moffatt
Self portrait, 1999/2005 Tracey Moffatt

Home truths

Magazine article by Joanna Gilmour, 2013

Despite once expressing a limited interest in the self portrait, the idea of it has figured strongly in much of Tracey Moffatt's work and has done so in some of her most distinctive and compelling images.

Cathy Freeman, 1994
Cathy Freeman, 1994
Cathy Freeman, 1994
Cathy Freeman, 1994

Depth of Field

Magazine article by Lauren Dalla, 2004

The exhibition Depth of Field displays a selection of portrait photographs that reflect the strength and diversity of Australian achievement.

Self-portrait, 1999
Self-portrait, 1999
Self-portrait, 1999
Self-portrait, 1999

A self-portrait in focus

Magazine article by Kim Appleby, 2002

In her self-portrait, Tracey Moffatt presents herself as her work.

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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.